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Tasty treat proves tough for Tonka to let go

By Paris Goodnight

Salisbury Post

This dog definitely bit off more than it could chew.

Tonka, a Rottweiler/German shepherd mix, found a deer carcass and apparently was enjoying the thrill of gnawing on the bones just a little too much.

He somehow got the deer’s pelvis bone, with a leg bone still attached, stuck in his mouth.

He’s the 8-year-old pet of Mary Hudson and her fiance, Robert Hart. Hudson said they have about seven acres of woods around their home north of Salisbury off U.S. 601. That’s where Tonka grabbed the snack that bit back.

When their smaller Shih Tzu dog came back in alone Wednesday, Hudson said she knew something was up because Tonka doesn’t usually stay out by himself for long. Then they heard banging and knocking on the deck.

When they looked out, Tonka had the bones hanging from his mouth.

“I said, ‘You better drop it,’ ” Hudson said. “He’d swing his head and run away. It must have been for hours. We didn’t quite get it.”

Thinking the dog just wanted to bring the bones inside, she and Hart didn’t think much of the trouble that Tonka had gotten himself into. Finally, at about 10 p.m., he banged on the door on the other side of the house.

“You can’t bring that in,” Hudson told him again — but then she realized he couldn’t let it go.

She and Hart tried their best to pull it loose, even using something like vice grips. They were able to get the bigger femur bone off, but not the pelvis bone that was wedged in tight.

“It was so hard, and it was hurting his jaw,” Hudson said. “His tongue was caught underneath it, and he was drooling so bad.”

Once they let him inside, Tonka calmed down and was able to rest. But he had to sleep with the stuck bone overnight. “We felt so sorry for him,” Hudson said.

On Thursday, they took him to see Dr. Charles Steinman at the Salisbury Animal Clinic, who said dogs get into deer carcasses all the time, but this one was a “freak thing.”

The bone that remained stuck — 10 or 12 inches long — smelled just about like you’d expect a carcass that had been out in the sun for a while to smell.

“It was a perfect fit,” Steinman said, and when the dog’s jaw got a little swollen, the bone really wasn’t coming out easily.

Dr. Leland Raymond, who has been with the clinic for a little more than a year, was the lucky one to perform the bone-removal procedure. He said it wasn’t too complicated once the dog was sedated.

“It was pretty easy to snip the bone off,” Raymond said. “He did fine. He got himself in quite a fix, but I’m sure he’s quite relieved now.”

Without a veterinarian’s care, Tonka’s mouth could have become seriously infected, he added.

The only similar incident Steinman could remember occurred years ago when a goose got shot with an arrow that went through its neck. He said the news services picked up that story and he had colleagues from all over calling to chuckle about his expertise in saving geese from such uncommon injuries.

The lucky goose lived, and so will the dog, who was to go home later Thursday.

Tonka even got his teeth cleaned and a small tumor removed from his leg while under the anesthesia.

And as for the “expensive” meal Tonka enjoyed, his family can only hope he doesn’t venture back out to the same spot for a similar feast once he’s turned loose.

“I think I’ll take a walk and get rid of it,” Hudson said.

Contact Paris Goodnight at 704-797-4255 or pgoodnight@ salisburypost.com.

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